Mickey Rooney is suing his stepson and others on allegations that they tricked him into thinking he was on the brink of poverty while defrauding him out of millions and bullying him into continuing to work.
The 90-year-old actor filed suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit accuses Rooney's stepson Christopher Aber, Aber's wife, Christina, and others of breach of fiduciary trust, elder abuse, fraud and other crimes over the past decade.
"While Chris instilled fear in Mickey and kept him in poverty, Chris took advantage of his unfettered access to Mickey's income," according to the filing. "Chris consistently paid himself a generous salary from Mickey's earnings, took `advances' on his salary, and spent Mickey's money as if it were his own."
The lawsuit also alleges Christopher Aber bullied Rooney into continuing to work by telling him he would lose his house and his medical benefits if he didn't continue to earn an income.
Reached by phone Thursday, Christopher Aber declined comment on the suit except to say, "this lawsuit is not from Mickey Rooney _ it's from his conservators who are stealing from him."
Both Rooney and his conservator Michael R. Augustine are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Augustine's services were sought by Rooney in February "to protect his person and estate from fraud ..."
An after-hours call to Christopher Aber's attorney seeking further comment wasn't immediately returned.
According to the lawsuit, Christopher Aber allegedly rerouted all of Rooney's mail and took control of his income, including his Social Security checks and residuals checks, which typically amounted to $12,000 a month _ and millions of dollars over the years.
Christopher Aber is also accused of applying for and using credit cards in Rooney's name to lead an extravagant lifestyle _ and used Rooney's money to finance two Mercedes Benz cars, a Porsche and a $100,000 racecar.
Born Ninian Joseph Yule Jr., Rooney made his stage debut as part of his family's vaudeville act when he was 15 months old. He has appeared in hundreds of films, television shows and theater productions, and still does personal appearances.
Nominated for an Oscar four times, Rooney won an honorary Oscar, known as a lifetime achievement award, in 1983 for "50 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances."
As a child actor, he won 1939's Juvenile Award Oscar _ a category that has since been discontinued.